“(..)But the past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are.”
“(..)But it is exactly these existing conditions that one objects to; and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The conditions will be done away with, and human nature will change. The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. (..) The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development.It is to be noted that Individualism does not come to the man with any sickly cant about duty, which merely means doing what other people want because they want it; or any hideous cant about self-sacrifice, which is merely a survival of savage mutilation. In fact, it does not come to a man with any claims upon him at all. It comes naturally and inevitably out of man. (..)”
“(..)The new Individualism, for whose service Socialism, whether it wills it or not, is working, will be perfect harmony.(..)” Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”, The works of Oscar Wilde, Collins London & Glasgow, 1949, pp. 1039-1043.
[Re-posted from the Old Site, original dated December 12th 2007. Only small adaptations made, it’s surprising I was so open to conservatism back then but the argument is a good one and the remark below therefore has to stand.]
I could have written this better. William Blake could not. Oscar Wilde is older than I am but by far the younger of Blake.
As simple as that (if you read on):
Not quite what you would expect of the decadent Wilde. Many would like us to believe that the absence of sour grapes is the absence of thought. Quite the opposite, sour grapes comes from rehearsing worn thoughts & jealously preventing others from coming up with new ones.
Such a negative attidtude is a particularly political state of mind.
I always wondered about Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, and I’m sure I will never get it, but just listen to the everyday politicians and you feel the weight of the thought. There is a certain something that makes politicians repeat over & over again what some leader or other quoted from an “original” text. It is the ready-made, but worn out, analysis of the past applied to the present. This counts as the ‘authentic’ whilst it is not more appetizing than the sunday meal warmed up and served for the fifth time on friday.
It does not have to be like that.
Socialism is not different in its duty-bound and self-sacrificing everyday outings; but it’s different in being condemned to follow everyday man. Willing or not, this everyday man is a man of his time, a man having no options but to live for the future. Creation is man’s business for a simple reason: every moment creates a situation that is entirely new, to which situation one can only respond creatively … or die. This is not stress or fulfilling whatever kind of claim; it is merely unavoidable authenticity. To John Smith, it will always seem oddly unreal, this strange repetitive business of politics.
One of the more ironic twists in socialism is its periodic confusion with political ‘progressive’ movements. Progressive rarely correlates with the Soul of Man & if it does it is by sheer coincidence. In essence the file rouge of all progressive movements is to claim ‘authenticity’ by repeating tunes slightly older than the one currently mainstream (funnily enough conservatives are more progressive in adopting a tune that is older still).
Progressives on the average hate progress. They abhor change – just look at the way they – sometimes literally – doom individual consumption as damning. One will be hard pressed to find progressives which do not in some way want us to be redeemed. As individuals we need to be improved, one by one, not by allowing us the freedom to create a new kind of life but by reconfirming us to some ‘authentic’ image. You fill in the dots, progressives just complete the Christian tradition of self-loathing. Conservatives are to be preferred then as they merely ask us to put on the show of self-loathing for the benefit of some public and stable order.
Organized socialism rarely wills change – just see how opposed they were to general voting rights – but organization does not matter too much to the long run of socialism. Socialism is condemned to follow the individual’s desires – as the only real claim of socialism are the furthering of those individual’s desires.
There simply is no historical framework or other form of melancholy present in the movement as long as one is optimistic about the natural way the perfect harmony will come to be. Organized socialism is self-defeating. The organized aspect of it needs for its cohesion some progressive or other frame but in the long run the final goal of the people’s progress will always break down these adopted frames.
Luckily for socialism, the least stable star on the political firmament is socialism.
[Whilst writing this I was listening to: “The ornette coleman trio at the “golden circle” stockholm” Vol 1, Blue Note.]